Pony Club often gets a bad rap from kids and adults who love to ride and show Dressage. I’m not sure if it’s because they have never heard of Pony Club, or don’t know that a Pony Club is available in their area, or because they are just focused on what is happening within their own barn.
Did you know Pony Club has a Dressage Curriculum from beginning level to Third Level? And did you know members can specialize in Dressage and don’t need to jump? These are changes made in the last few years to make the program more relevant to members passionate about Dressage!
There are three ways for Dressage enthusiasts to be members of Pony Club:
- Join a local Pony Club – an established club made up of a group of people pooled together in an area
- Join—or start—a Pony Club Riding Center – a dressage barn can form its own Pony Club
- And now—just for adults—a third: join or start a Horsemasters Program!
Pony Club has one of the finest Standards of Educational Proficiency in the USA for clubs, centers and Horsemasters groups to follow when setting up their lesson programs. When members are ready, their progressive skills are measured by periodic examinations. The examinations at the lower levels are given by a Pony Club instructor or other knowledgeable person at the local level, and the upper level Dressage Specialty examinations (equivalent of First Level – Third Level) are administered by National Examiners. These individuals have gone through rigorous training in dressage biomechanics; many are USEF Certified Dressage Judges.
Pony Club also teaches Horse Management, which helps both kids and adults to become true horsemen. These horse management skills build a foundation to make champions out of the participants. Competition in Pony Club includes evaluation of the members’ proficiency in horse management as well as riding skills, and all competition is as a team, similar to Young Riders or the Olympics.
There are many activities offered in Pony Club for those interested in Dressage:
- Each year, a Pony Club team attends the Lendon Gray Dressage4Kids competition.
- Regional rallies are held throughout the country in Dressage and many offer Pony Club Training Level Freestyle tests, geared more toward making the artistic quality fun.
- Yearly National Championships take place – Championships East (held in Lexington, Virginia or in Lexington, Kentucky during Festival years), Championships Midwest and Championships West (Midwest and West organize every other year).
- Activities like Pony Club Festival, which takes place every three years at the Kentucky Horse Park, includes instruction by great coaches like Linda Zang, Erin Brinkman, Claire Harmon, Kate Poulin, Alison Sader-Larson, Eric Dierks, and on and on, teach at a reduced price making it fun and inspirational. There is family atmosphere at Pony Club Festival—it’s more about working together to learn than trying to prove who is the best. “The Dancing Horse Fund Grant” from The Dressage Foundation was awarded to Pony Club this year for a Musical Freestyle Clinic with Reese Koffler-Stanfield. Koffler-Stanfield presented both mounted and unmounted workshops on Musical Freestyle during Pony Club Festival.
Please visit your local Pony Club for more information—or consider setting up a Pony Club Riding Center at your dressage barn to involve your kids and adults in this great program. Think Pony Club; Think Dressage!
The Horsemasters Program for Adult Volunteers requires a Liaison within a Pony Club or Pony Club Center with their own curriculum of Bronze, Silver and Gold Certificates (taken from the same curriculm Pony Club offers) – many ratings are pressed together for the adults, with nothing left out.
For more information on where to find a local Pony Club, or information on how to start a Club or Riding Center, contact the Pony Club National Office at the Kentucky Horse Park, 859-254-7669, or www.ponyclub.org